Many people rank fear of public speaking or glossophobia, as their number one dread. The number two is death! The thought of giving a speech in public, the fear of being judged or of making a mistake, and even the most competent business person’s knees turn to jelly. It’s totally understandable, but it can also be detrimental to living your life and doing what you love.
In my life before teaching yoga, the very thought of having to deliver a speech, set my knees knocking. I dreaded it. It might only be a five minute presentation, but there was nothing worse that could be asked of me. I’d be thinking about it, morning, noon and night. What if I cock up, what if I let my team down, or what if I fluff my words. So, I would take all the advice, prepare loads, even do the, ‘imagine the audience naked’ thing, but come the day, I would still be quaking in my size sixes.
Nowadays, conversely, I spend up to three hours a day, talking in front of groups of people, and I absolutely love it. I also teach in a foreign language without flinching. So what’s changed to enable me do a complete, three-sixty ?
Practice obviously helps. The fact that I do it daily has been a kind of aversion therapy. But most importantly, I realized that the anticipation and imagined fears of disaster were way worse than doing the speech. I let my mind get the better of me, and if I could have just relaxed, and realized that my fears were irrational and all in my mind, maybe I could have enjoyed it back then too.
What would have been worse though, is if I would have allowed my glossophobia to affect my future career choices. If I would have let fear beat me, I wouldn’t be doing what I do now, a job that I love, a job which demands that I regularly do what I used to dread.
Fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real, and almost certainly, whatever it is that we’re frightened of won’t happen. When you step into your fear, you realize that it is all just imagined, just a figment of an over-active imagination–and that your effort to face your fears can easily succeed.
What will you accomplish once you stop fear getting the better of you, when you burn off that fear-fog and put yourself ‘out there?’ What will it feel like to face and to be free of that fear?
If you let fear win, it might stop you from doing something you love.
Here are some fab quotes from people who have also struggled with fear:
“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”
– Jim Morrison
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.’
“The key to change… is to let go of fear.”
“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
“We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.”
“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”
–Thich Nhat Hanh
“Have no fear of perfection–you’ll never reach it.”
“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.”
“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
–Louisa May Alcott
“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
– Marcus Aurelius.
“Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back.”
There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”
– John Lennon
Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
– C. JoyBell C.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” – Japanese Proverb
So kick fear in the rear, and just do it!!
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